Thursday, July 1, 2010

Passages of Greatness, vol. 1

Here is an excerpt from Ploskonka's Western States race report. As you are all aware by now, Dave had a pretty baller race and was named this week's Purple Drink Athlete of the Week.

Overall, I felt good about my performance. My goals were to put in a solid effort, finish under 24 hours and get the silver sub-24-hour buckle, and not wreck myself before Badwater. While the success of the last one remains to be seen, I definitely accomplished the first two.

I will preface by saying that the Western States course includes 18,000 feet of climb, and 23,000 feet of loss. Because Badwater is the focus race, I didn't do nearly the amount of training on downhills that I did on uphills. As a result, the downhills wrecked my quads, and I wound up speed-walking most of the last 15 miles to come in under 24.

The upside is that my climbing was really strong, and what put me under 24 in spite of being wrecked from all of the downhill. I'm particularly proud of reaching the "Escarpment" aid station in under 36 minutes by fast-hiking, and barely feeling fatigued at the top- this is the first aid station in the race, 3.5 miles from the start, with a climb from about 6,000 feet to nearly 9,000 feet elevation. So clearly, my uphill training on the treadmill paid off.

Ultimately, my finish time of 23 hours, 34 minutes and some-odd seconds was, in some ways, my most painful, hardest-fought finish. With the variability in weather and trail conditions, from 35 degrees and snowy at Emigrant's Pass, to 100 degrees, dry, and sunny in the canyons, not to mention numerous stream/river crossings that pretty much guaranteed that your feet would never dry (I have the blisters to prove it), this race more than any I've run so far tested my environmental conditioning (happy to report that the heat didn't affect me, but running on snow, well, I fell down a lot). This race also had the most downhill of any of these races that I've run, and I've never been a good downhill runner, so it definitely hurt a lot towards the end (although even in that state, I was still able to walk a little over 4 miles per hour on the flats and uphill). Downhill running is definitely something I want to work on in the coming months to take my ultrarunning to the next level.

In addition to Western States, there were some good performances elsewhere, including Dr. J's 1:36:02 half marathon at Seattle Rock n Roll Half, Alex Viana's 3rd place at Brownsville to put him within 3 points of catting up, and Alex Battaglino's 4th place (16:11) finish at Damien's Run 5k in Columbia.

In the world of triathlon, Spider won the Panther Prowl Sprint Tri in Knoxville, while Ben Winterroth took 3rd in the Celebration Sprint in Columbia. Out at Ironman Couer d'Alene, David Lee finished in 11:21:43, while Scott Boylan finished 2nd in 55-59 and picked up a coveted slot to Kona! This is the 2nd year in a row he's qualified (maybe we all just need to get old). Last year he qualified at Louisville so only had a 6 week turnaround, this time he's got 14 weeks.

Final event of the weekend was Baltimore Women's Classic, where our Tuesday Night Track ladies went 2, 3, 5! Megan DiGregorio, Meg McNew and Suzanne Hurst.

But the most important event of the weekend was Hubs of Fury 6: Trail of Beers. We assembled our crew at the Fort and headed to some hole in the wall in Locust Point, where draught beer was but a dollar and a quarter. It was a good stop. Sly Fox was #2, which was cool, and then we went to The Nest on Pratt (it smelled bad). Rolled over to Whistling Oyster in Fells before eating hot dogs next door at Stuggy's, then went to Bartenders (probably the least fun of the night). From there we headed up to Claddagh's and partied til close. Some impressive performances included Eric Benjamin and Spence, who attended their first ever HOF, Denise - who stayed out all night, Steve Wancowicz who showed up towards the end...and Lauren Boof Dennisuk who was MOVING to Michigan the very next morning, yet she was dancing the night away. And finally Pat McLoughlin, who had just gotten back from a vacation to Hawaii and was completely wiped but he made it out. Awesome effort everyone!

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